Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp Recipe

Shrimp are marinated with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and a splash of fish sauce before being grilled with the shell on for maximum juiciness.

Closeup of grilled lemongrass shrimp piled high on a bed of cilantro sprigs.

Serious Eats / Shao Z.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Shell-on shrimp come out exceptionally juicy and tender on the grill.

Remember when Kenji published his article on how to grill perfect shrimp, in which he wrote that one of the best methods for ensuring tender grilled shrimp is to cook them in their shells? And then do you remember how he threw that option out the window just to be nice to those dainty folks among us who don't like having to peel their shrimp and get their fingers messy? He spent so much time perfecting a shell-off method, which I'll definitely be using in the future, from the baking soda and sugar dry-brine to the clever skewering arrangement that ensures juiciness.

But, I, like Kenji, really, really love eating shell-on shrimp. I like them even more if they also have their heads still attached. Frankly, I like those heads as much, if not more, than I like the meaty tail. So I wanted to share one of my favorite shell-on grilled shrimp recipes, just so you guys have options. Shell-on, shell-off, we've got you covered.

The best part is how easy a shell-on method is—those shells act as a temperature buffer, helping to prevent the shrimp from overcooking. Which means there's very little to do beyond flavor them and grill them.

My go-to shrimp marinade includes a splash of fish sauce, minced garlic, and ginger. For this recipe, I bumped up the aromatics with lemongrass and shallots, then added a burst of heat with chile flakes.

To start, I wash the shrimp, then pat them dry. Then I quickly quickly whip up the marinade, toss the shrimp in it, and let them marinate for at least an hour. I grill the shrimp over direct heat until they're just cooked through, then serve them.

The marinated, shell-on shrimp are arranged on a grill grate directly above glowing coals.

Serious Eats / Shao Z.

Shell-on shrimp always present one small conundrum: most of the marinade flavor is on the exterior of the shells, while the shrimp inside have an exceptional shrimp flavor and juicy, tender texture thanks to being cooked in the shells. Do you shell the shrimp and settle for the flavor of the marinade that comes off on your fingers? That's a fine option if you do. Personally, I just take a nice big bite, shell and all, then suck the heads. It's the best of all possible worlds.

August 2015

Recipe Details

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 60 mins
Serves 4 servings

Shrimp are marinated with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and a splash of fish sauce before being grilled with the shell on for maximum juiciness.


  • 1 pound jumbo shell-on shrimp, preferably with heads

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemongrass, from about 2 to 3 stalks (white and light green parts only)

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh peeled ginger

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot (about 1 small shallot)

  • 2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes


  1. Wash shrimp under cold running water, then dry well with paper towels.

  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, shallot, oil, salt, and chile flakes.

    Closeup of the marinade ingredients being whisked together with a fork in a ceramic bowl.

    Serious Eats / Shao Z.

  3. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.

    The shrimp are added to the bowl and tossed with the marinade.

    Serious Eats / Shao Z.

  4. When you are ready to cook, set up your grill. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to medium-high heat, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

  5. Place shrimp on the grill in a single layer and cook over direct heat. Cook, turning, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Serve.

    The marinated shrimp are arranged on the grill grate directly above glowing coals.

    Serious Eats / Shao Z.

Special Equipment

Grill, chimney starter

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
164 Calories
4g Fat
4g Carbs
26g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 164
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 239mg 80%
Sodium 1467mg 64%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 112mg 9%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 234mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)